Friday, March 28, 2014

SNB Mailbag

On the Saturday Night Boxing Facebook page, I get asked some great questions from boxing fans from around the world (I also get asked all sorts of silly, but you know how that can be). Many of the questions can be answered with a pithy comment or a brief sentence, but often I get some good ones, those that I would like to explore in more detail. Thus, here is the initial Saturday Night Boxing Mailbag. Below are all questions from real boxing fans. I have included their names and hometowns. 

You'll see a nice variety of questions dealing with the top boxing topics of the day, such as HBO, Stevenson, Mayweather and Haymon, as well as some excellent questions about other goings-on in the sport.    


With the announcement that Adonis Stevenson will be fighting on Showtime instead of HBO, it leads that Stevenson will fight the winner of Hopkins-Shumenov instead of Kovalev. In terms of his career and legacy, does Stevenson's stock drop because of this?
Eddie LaRonin 

Well, avoiding Kovalev doesn't help Stevenson's legacy; that's certain. However, if he keeps winning and beats Hopkins and some other good fighters at light heavyweight, the impact of avoiding Kovalev can be diminished over time. It's true that skipping over a natural rival will be a significant mark against him but time does heal many wounds. Right now, Stevenson's reputation has taken a hit, but more wins against good opposition will help his legacy in the long run. 

Is HBO getting out of the boxing business?
Damaya Gabar

I have been assured by people at HBO that they remain in the boxing business and that they are as committed to it as they have always been (of course, one must be wary of corporate spin). But it's true that HBO's schedule has been subpar in 2014 and the move to push more fights to pay per view isn't welcome news for its subscribers. 

I don't believe that HBO can continue to conduct business as it currently does. By avoiding Al Haymon and Golden Boy fighters, the network is clearly cutting itself off from many potential thrilling matchups for its subscribers. I don't believe that this is a recipe for long-term success. Last month, I wrote a piece about the state of HBO Boxing. Take a look at it here for some additional thoughts on the subject. 


Is there anyone in history that could beat Floyd over 12 rounds?
Alan Butler
Glasgow, Scotland

Sure, lots of fighters would have a real chance of beating him. Over the last 40 years, I'll give you some who could win (not necessarily saying that they would). All fought in his weight classes: Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Aaron Pryor, Julio Cesar Chavez, Terry Norris, Mike McCallum, Julian Jackson, Winky Wright, Vernon Forrest, Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez. I'm sure that there are a few others as well. 

Will Mayweather ever lose?
Gerardo Andrades
National City, California

If he sticks around long enough, it's certainly possible. Probable, I would say. 

What do you think about the delusional fans that think Mayweather just runs in his fights?
James Riordan
Dublin, Ireland

They are severely misguided and not watching his fights that closely. Mayweather is a very good inside fighter and although he still moves quite a bit, he spends a lot of his time beating his opponents in the pocket. 

What is the strategy to beat Mayweather?
Steven McManus
Syracuse, New York

In theory, there are many ways to beat Mayweather. No fighter is invincible. Jose Luis Castillo demonstrated that he could be susceptible to pressure. Mosley and Judah showed that his chin could be cracked. De la Hoya had a lot of success with an excellent jab. 

However, to beat Mayweather a fighter needs to adapt and show different dimensions. Floyd will often give up early rounds while he figures a fighter out. But by round three or four, he has already seen his opponents' strategies and how they plan to beat him. He rarely loses rounds in the second halves of his fights. 

Fighters would have to show Floyd different looks over 12 rounds to beat him. Also, it would be helpful to have a large arsenal of punches. Perhaps Leonard's combination of finesse and power or Duran's pressure and heavy hands could do the trick. I'll make a possible exception for Julian Jackson, who had the capability to knock out any fighter in history at 154 pounds. Perhaps with one good connect, he ends it. For those without true one-punch knockout power, to beat Mayweather, a fighter has to make adjustments. 

How do you feel about a Bradley/Mayweather showdown if Timmy beats Manny?
Za-Quan Peterkin
St. Albans, New York

It's obviously a great fight although it looks unlikely now that Bradley has renewed with Top Rank. But putting that aside and just examining the hypothetical aspects of the fight, Bradley is a boxer who brings many dimensions to the table. He can pressure, fight off of his back foot, use lateral movement and lead or counter. 

The issue for Bradley against Mayweather is that his defense, while good, is certainly not impenetrable. He can be hit and he sometimes can get too brave for his own good. I think that Floyd would have success on the inside and his jab and straight right hand would land a lot at mid-range. Bradley would need to outwork Mayweather decisively to win on the judges' scorecards but that's not an easy proposition since Floyd doesn't really allow for high volumes. I think it's a competitive fight and it would go the distance, but I would favor Floyd. 


What's happening in boxing with Al Haymon?
Grant Cartwright
Wilmington, Delaware

You mean it's still called boxing and not Haymon?

Do you believe that Al Haymon is good for the sport of boxing?
Edinburgh, Scotland

All joking aside, I think that Al Haymon, much like boxing titans Bob Arum and Don King, has a very mixed legacy in the sport. On one hand, he certainly gets his fighters paid. He has been very adept at guiding young talent to the championship level of the sport. 

However, I don't believe that he has done a great job in helping develop his fighters to reach their full potential. Not all of this blame should be assigned to Haymon but I think that he plays a role. Look at Jermain Taylor, Andre Berto, Paul Williams and Adrien Broner. I think that all of these boxers were rushed and didn't face enough real challenges during their developmental fights. Haymon tried to fast-track these fighters to greatness and, I believe, short-circuited their ultimate abilities. I think that this is a major mark against him. 

I also don't like the way that certain fighters in his stable become favored over others who may be more deserving. Erislandy Lara and Keith Thurman are two boxers whom I believe have deserved better treatment than they have received from Haymon. 

Since 2013, Haymon has realized that by allowing his fighters to face each other he could expand their options in the ring (as well as his cut of the action). This has helped create opportunities for his fighters but I now feel that he has gone too far in the other direction by keeping as much as he possibly can in-house. This is a limiting factor for his stable. 

As far as his relationships with certain networks and promoters, there have always been very influential managers in boxing. If he's a tough negotiator, then so be it. All he needs is one network to say yes to him. To this point, he has always found that willing suitor. 


What is happening with Andre Dirrell?
Junaid Khalil 
Manchester, England

Not much. Chillin'.

Does timing truly beat speed? I believe it does.
David Byrne
Dublin, Ireland

Ahhh. One of my pet peeves – boxing clichés. There is almost a rock-paper-scissors notion in boxing that speed beats power and timing beats speed, etc. All of these concepts can be true, but none should be taken as some type of immutable fact. There are dozens and dozens of counterexamples every year. Let's take Khan-Molina and Marquez-Bradley as two instances where the "timing beats speed" cliché didn't work. Both Molina and Marquez were able to land with their counters at various points in their fight, yet the faster guys won. Ultimately, timing is great, but if it can't thwart or dissuade the other fighter, than it doesn't guarantee anything. 

Now, speed beats power. Except when it doesn't. Chad Dawson certainly had faster hands than Adonis Stevenson. But that didn't matter when he got cracked in the chin so hard that he couldn't make it out of the first round. Let's stay with Dawson for a second. Everyone would agree that Hopkins is a master of timing, yet Dawson outboxed him fairly easily, another example where timing didn't beat speed. 

So these clichés like "speed kills" and "skills pay the bills," are all cute and everything but they are far from definitive truths. It's like "styles makes fights." Sometimes that's true. But sometimes the more talented fighter beats all styles. Ultimately, I'm a sucker for talent. That's something I continue to believe in, not clichés.  

Who do you feel is the most underappreciated heavyweight champion of all time? I feel like Larry Holmes is often overlooked in that category.
Ryan Uglow
Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Certainly in his time Holmes, just like Lennox Lewis, wasn't fully appreciated by the boxing public. However, both of these fighters have aged well historically and are considered top-ten heavyweights. Thus, I don't believe either is a candidate for being truly underappreciated.

I'll give you Gene Tunney as an answer. With multiple wins over Harry Greb (a much smaller fighter, but one of the best pugilists of all time) and Jack Dempsey (granted an older version), Tunney was certainly an elite talent. While many hardcore boxing fans and historians know about Tunney's skills and accomplishments, I believe that time has forgotten him somewhat. People talk about Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis during the first half of the 20th century; Tunney isn't brought up that regularly. I'm not saying that Tunney was Joe Louis' equal, but he was an excellent fighter and probably deserves a more elevated spot in heavyweight history as compared to his current standing. 

If Bob Arum's going to just continue to disrespect Rigo and hates his style of fighting, why not sell him to the highest bidder and stop sitting him on the shelf. Real boxing fans wants to see him in action, and often.
Malachi Walker
Hudson, New York

I agree with part of this. Certainly Arum has done a poor job of promoting Rigondeaux by badmouthing him to the press and publicly announcing HBO's purported displeasure with the fighter. However, Rigo hasn't connected with fans. His ratings aren't particularly strong. His style of fighting often lacks action and he hasn't shown an interest in staying busy. Both sides are to blame here and I'm sure that after his next fight, when Rigo is a free agent, Arum will gladly let him walk.

Do you think taking a loss and getting paid millions to do it is worth it?
Andres Olaechea
Ponce, Puerto Rico

This situation in boxing doesn't happen nearly as often as we think it does. Brandon Rios was in such a situation last year against Manny Pacquiao, when he walked into a fight lacking every conceivable advantage. He took quite a beating too. Larry Holmes was fat and out-of-shape when he was offered a fight against Mike Tyson. Holmes was happy to take the money. 

It may depend on where a fighter is in his career. If a boxer is on the rise, a brutalizing loss could stunt his development, shake his confidence and cause serious injury. For other fighters, the money is more important than whatever the result is. I don't have a hard-and-fast answer to your question and I think that each situation should be evaluated individually. 

Do you think boxing is better since the Eastern European fighters have started to compete on the professional level?
Joseph Higgins
Atlantic City

Of course. The sport is always better with more talent. In just two short decades, Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet republics have produced many champions and contenders. In addition, if you add in the Cuban fighters that have made their way to professional boxing in the past 10 years, you have a new era of talent. The Klitschkos will both get into the Hall of Fame (Wlad more deserving than Vitali). Rigondeaux has Hall of Fame talent. Joel Casamayor is probably a borderline candidate who falls just short. 

Ex-Communist countries have also produced long-time champions such as Marco Huck (Serbia, formerly part of Yugoslavia) and Arthur Abraham (Armenia). In addition, consider prime talents such as Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Ruslan Provodnikov, Alexander Povetkin, Vasyl Lomachenko, Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Erislandy Lara, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Mike Perez.

I think in time we will look upon professional fighters from prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall with an internal asterisk, like we do with white baseball players before integration. Professional fighters from the 20th century will be seen as having faced lesser competition than those in the 21st century. I'm sure that not everyone shares this opinion and there are mitigating factors to it, such as America was producing more boxing talent in the 20th century than it is right now. But let's wait on judging that one; we're only 15 years into the new century. America has a chance to right its ship.   

We are still at the end of the first wave of the ex-Communist fighters joining the professional ranks. In another 20 or 30 years, I expect many boxers from ex-Communist or current Communist nations – let’s not forget the influx of Chinese fighters that will be coming to the sport – to dominate. I believe that boxing historians will eventually look at the 20th century as a time when fighters from Western nations reigned supreme, but that they faced a significantly reduced talent pool. As an example, Muhammad Ali will always be remembered as one of the truly great heavyweights, but we really don't know if he was better than the Cuban star Teofilo Stevenson, who never got to fight professionally.

Right now, boxing history is still Western-centric, by that I mean it is controlled and written by Western writers (include Western-style democracies like Japan and Australia into this mix). Ultimately, needed revisionism will take place in boxing history. I believe that the Communist amateur stars of the 20th century will eventually earn their rightful place in boxing history and that the accomplishments of 20th century boxers will be slightly diminished because of the relatively small number of nations that supplied top professional boxers. 

What does Andre Ward need to do to be a mainstream athlete, mainstream like LeBron, Brady, Crosby, or GSP (George St-Pierre)?
Paul Swacha
Calgary, Canada

I'm not sure that Ward will ever get to that lofty status. (Also, I don't know if GSP should be included there. I'm rather ignorant to the MMA's effect on broader popular culture). First off, Ward could certainly fight more. His most recent battles have been against his promoter and not in the ring. It would also help if he had a natural rival. Unfortunately, his fights have been so easy that it has been tough for him to provide compelling action in the ring. Maybe Golovkin or Kovalev are the type of fighters who could really push Ward, but who knows? To become a bigger attraction in the broader sports world, Ward will need suitable dance partners that the public views as having a legitimate chance to beat him. Right now, these candidates are few and far between. 

Will Kell Brook win a world title?
Daniel Blaides
Whitechurch, Ireland

I don't see why not in today's world of four titles per division, especially if he doesn't eat his way out of welterweight. Fighting in an actual title match would also greatly enhance his chances of, you know, winning a title. I think he's been a mandatory since Clinton was President.  

Why do we boxing fans continue to watch matches when typical matches are pretty boring?
Graciano Iracheta
San Antonio

Two answers: 1. We’re masochists. We enjoy subjecting ourselves to awful fights. We watch fights knowing that they will be bad and uncompetitive yet we often do this several times a month. 2. We never know when a Bradley-Provodnikov can happen. We'd hate to miss it. 

Is Broner a hype job?
Phillip Inno

I wouldn't say hype job. He has legitimate wins in my eyes over Antonio DeMarco and Paulie Malignaggi; they are certainly capable fighters. Ultimately, I believe that there were failures all throughout Team Broner. He needed to go to 140 before 147. He should have had more developmental fights before taking on someone like Daniel Ponce de Leon. He needed additional live threats at 130 and 135. In the rush to make Broner a star, the fighter, his promoter and management all jumped the gun.

In addition, he needed to be in the gym more. He went to 147 partly out of a lack of discipline during times when he wasn't in camp. His inside fighting skills weren't nearly as effective at 147 as they were at the smaller weights because he lacked true welterweight power. 

Broner needs to go back down to 140 and string together three good wins. I'd like to see him be fairly active in the ring. He should be facing if not necessarily world beaters then at least live threats – Carlos Molina is a time-waster. He wasn't ready for the power and pressure of Maidana, but he wasn't all that far off either. One day I'd like to see him against Matthysse. But let's not rush him. He still needs some time. 

What's next for Danny Garcia?
Levi Giles
Grimsby, England

It seems that Garcia is ready to move up to 147. I think a natural first opponent would be Robert Guerrero, who has enough strengths and flaws to make for a very competitive and compelling fight. Golden Boy is very deep at 147. Fights against the winner or loser of Porter-Malignaggi could make sense for Garcia as well. 

Will beating Miguel Cotto make Sergio Martinez a Hall of Famer?
Oscar Torres
Victoria, Texas

I believe so. It is a watered-down era but Sergio has provided a lot of thrilling moments in the ring. The media also likes him. A win over Cotto would make seven defenses of his lineal middleweight title. In addition, at his time at the top of the sport, no one has been able to beat him definitively. I don't believe that Martinez is an inner-ring Hall of Fame type, reserved for the truly transcendent in the sport, but I think he gets in. 

Why is the boxing world so corrupt?
Julio Andino
Baker City, Oregon

Is it boxing or the world in which we live? Is boxing just a mirror for the base instincts of humanity? It's not like there isn't corruption in all other forms of sport, industry and politics. Nevertheless, it does seem like boxing fans, as opposed to enthusiasts from other sports, are particularly fixated on the corrupt aspects of their sport.

If you could make one change to the sport what would it be?
Jay Martin

Boxing has many problems; there's no need to sugarcoat it. I think the most damning one is the best not fighting the best. There have always been fighters who have ducked other guys. That's not new. However, the sport is structurally set up today in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan in norms where the rival promotional interests (with tacit approval from their sponsoring television networks) rarely match their fighters against those of their competitors. This is a huge problem. Even if a Golden Boy fighter wanted to face a Top Rank boxer, the current boxing landscape makes that reality almost impossible. 

The lack of elite matchups harms the sport and ruins its ability to help create new fans and keep its existing ones. It's very frustrating to sit through an era where the top two fighters in the world have refused to face each other. But I don't think Mayweather-Pacquiao is an aberration. I believe that the failure to make that fight reflects the current norm in the sport. We are seeing this throughout boxing where the best fighters find all sorts of ways to avoid facing their top rivals. If the best fights the best, the sport's problems won't magically disappear, but we'll certainly be much happier, and boxing will be in a far better place.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at 
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